Every now and then I’ll get an email asking for guidance on how to get into the industry. I have never actually worked in the industry so I don’t know what the likes of EA and Ubisoft look for. But I know what we look for. Here’s my personal tips.
We don’t look at your exam results
You might have got a F in French or a C in Maths 8 years ago when you left school. That is meaningless to us. We aren’t paying you to do well in exams. You can leave this off your CV.
We don’t look at your college/university results
You might have done a gaming course at college or university. That’s cool to see, it shows you are serious about game development. But this doesn’t guarantee you a job, and doesn’t particularly put you above any other candidate.
We hardly look at your previous employment
Your employment history is meaningless to us. In fact I’d rather hire someone that has never actually worked at another game studio before. This is because we aren’t other game studios. Sometimes we’ll get a candidate who has obviously been institutionalised by the game studios they’ve worked at. They have lost any real passion they used to have. Any ability they used to have has been replaced by finding ways to make the task at hand ‘not their job’. We would much rather have someone that has worked at McDonalds for 15 years, and has always wanted to be a game designer. Someone to whom the job is their hobby, not just a way to pay their mortgage.
What have you done?
If you’re an artist, we look at your art. If you are a programmer, we look at your games. If you are an animator we look at your animations.
It’s important to note here that we’re not purely talking about content you’ve made at other companies, or for a fee. Work you have done in your spare time just because you love creating speaks a hundred times louder than work you have done because some fat guy who gets paid more than you told you to. And there should be a lot of it. If you love doing this – why aren’t you doing it right now? Why aren’t you sharing what you create?
It’s also important to note that your stuff has to be good. We’re not going to hire you if you have lots of stuff but it’s all shit.
What you should do
So you’re an aspiring game developer, you want to develop games, you want to get paid for it. If you’re a concept artist – draw. If you’re a programmer – program. If you’re a 3D artist – model, texture. Do it a lot. Get good at it. Volunteer with a modding crew, or an indie game crew, this will help you learn the job, learn how to work with other people.
The irony of this is that our ideal employees are independent thinking people who are that good at what they do that they they could easily go it alone. This is something you should seriously consider. Maybe you should build a team and make a game. It’s not hard to do now we have tools like Unity. And it’s not that hard to distribute and sell now we have Steam and the App Stores. It’s totally possible if you’re willing to stand up and work for it.